Leave The Light On by Pillow Queens album review by Greg Waler for Northern Transmissions

Royal Mountain Records

8

Pillow Queens

Leave The Light On

With their debut LP, In Waiting, Irish, queer, ex-Catholic group, Pillow Queens appeared with a pop alternative album with plenty of brogue and plenty of clever references to their sexuality and religion. Songs like “Gay Girls” blew up, being featured in the Amazon original film, Dating Amber, and catching on throughout the world.

Their latest offering, Leave The Light On, is something of a departure, what sounds like the result of many months in the practice room, developing a more post-rock sound that draws from the likes of Angel Olsen, but with more punky, ragged edges. And somehow, the feminine brogue seems to have been replaced with a punk rock howl.

Though there is less obvious verbiage, their queerness is still on full display. “Be by my side, I want to be / Although the times I lied, I cannot read / There’s nothing left to show you now to my heart,” they sing on the riveting first number. “Historian” is a sweet three-four number, that seems to deal in both domesticity and professionalism involved in relationships. “She makes the coffee and she’s a historian,” they sing over a rocking boat of a tune, with piercing lead guitars. Besides the mature lyrics, and satisfying vocals, the guitar is by far my favorite thing on this record. Something that gives this music, in my mind, a leg up on alternative female fronted bands, like Angel Olsen’s.

“Well, I’m fixin’ to move, I’m atrophied / From winning over all these hearts and minds / Save my feelings, no more novenas / You came to worship, but the godless kind,” they sing on anthemic, “Hearts and Minds.” It shows a band who works hard, to create a feeling, an experience that is blissful, transcendent, like church. But it is the music club that is the place where so many of the youth, the LGBT in particular, go to experience something like the “divine.” They are filling a hole that church no longer fills for many youth, even singing a song, in the language of the church, called, “I’m Delivered.”

The record is a forty-five minute romp through their experience as those not only gaining notoriety, but maturity, and with slow songs and faster songs, cleaner and more grungy songs, and an overall post-rock aesthetic that makes the project cohesive, it is quite an impressive album of songs. In their clever gender-bending, they take themes that have been sung about for years in songs, country and pop alike, like “Well Kept Wife” and “No Good Woman,” which plays on the age old concept of their being no good men to partner with.

They are clever, as vocalists and instrumentalists, but more than that, earnest. It’s a very serious record, which provides catharsis, but also looks deep within. Like they sing on the album closer, “I’m not fooling anyone / But I try, try, try.” Their art shows people honest about their desperation but heroic in their effort, serious about the pitfalls of society and personal relationships, but with a hope that connection is not only possible but healing and enlivening. It is an impressive sophomore album, all the more impressive to me, because they threw out the rules they wrote their first album by. Definitely a band to watch, or see live.

Order Leave The Light On by Pillow Queens HERE